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And as if air could stop breath, she smiled and sighed, and told him things she had never shared before. It was an experience all the same, mixed in with the forlorn events of a sophisticated lifestyle. The train before her was a silver flash, blinking and twinkling with specks of speeding light. Her eye was trained on the glass windows, marking them as they slowed and stopped before her.
It was cold. The air around her could be seen, crystallized in the underground. He stood smiling to her side, the corners of his cheeks crinkling as they impeded upward. “You’re lucky to be alive,” he said.
“Aren’t you taking my phone calls anymore?”
“I wasn’t planning on it.”
“It’s not important to you?” he asked for the last time, beating his long fingers against that black suitcase of his. “Am I not…”
“Oh, Jesus. Don’t finish that.”
The cathedral air was warm, and dusty. The summer sun shined through the stained glass windows, casting jade and crimson shadows over the gray marble. He touched my hand, and I quivered. He promised me many things, things that I could not comprehend – of life and of death.
It was so hopelessly clichéd.
“You do realize I find you despicable?”
“Quite,” she agreed.
And when it came time to breathe again, I didn’t. We were underwater in the Mediterranean, off the coast of some forgotten place where the tides were clean and the people sang poems of love. And when we finally found the shore, my feet were exhausted but we danced upon the silver pebbles with grace and contented sighs.
The Bus Station
The crowds refused to disperse, but it satisfied her distaste for them. Who was going to Rouen anyway? Where the Dutch architecture smiled from the riverside? She didn’t know, nor did she care – her heart was set on the chateau outside – its white stone carved and molded to fit the Greeks. It was beautiful, and she didn’t worry if he joined her or not.
“I am terribly hungry.”
He could starve.
The Bus, A Café
Somewhere Near Amiens, France
“Paris is near.”
“No, it’s really not.” The cigarette in her mouth disgusted him.
Green scenery blurred outside, broken by stations and villages. They had stopped for a meal, resting in a café decorated in browns and gold. He ordered them coffees, two milks and three sugars in each, blowing on hers as he placed it in front of her.
She grasped the cup, and it burnt her hand. He kissed her fingers.
“‘When you were here before, I couldn’t look you in the eye,’” he quoted*. “‘You’re just like an angel. Your skin makes me cry.... I wish I was special.’”
“No, you really don’t.”
Beauty captivated the earth, painting the floating canvas in oranges and purples – it whispered delicacies of temptation into my ears. His cheeks were creased in a frown, his eyes flickering with candlelight as he whispered sonnets in the dark room alone, his head lulling on a pillow of down and his pale finger tracing a sign of rebirth.
“Oh, it’s cataclysmic,” she mused once outside, her arms raised toward the setting sun. They stood along the quiet street, borrowing time as he wiped whatever tears from her eyes.
A weak smiled inched its way onto her face. “Cataclysmic happiness,” she told him. “I shouldn’t be allowed to be this happy.”
He whispered in her ear before calling a taxi. They slipped inside the car, slipping the driver twenty somethings, and telling him to take them away.
And I assured him of many things when he spoke to me again. My heart was not his Amiens. The café was not our home, the café was not our retreat – it burned of contemplation. Sparks of green envied the heretofore, but imploded once the poets returned to their cottages.
Metz crucified the heart.
Strasbourg’s silver bullets sedated the contented sighs.
Rouen kept our love.
He touched her hand, encircling her tan fingers with his own pallid bones. His skin matched the stone of the home – they harmonized, but he was warm and alive and beating. He believed her here, watched her here with an eye of love instead of suspicion. He loved her here.
And she looked upon him with a sense of awe.